photo: Dakota Hudson (Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports)
The St. Louis Cardinals finished the 6-4 road trip with two 2-1 series wins. The offense cooled as the starting pitching stepped up, led by Dakota Hudson’s 6 2/3 scoreless innings. Tommy Herr’s heroics on “Seat Cushion Night” in 1987 are remembered in our weekly history feature.
Monday, April 18 – Off day
The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Miami Marlins in the first of a three-game set at Loan Depot Park. Adam Wainwright took the mound for the Cardinals against Marlins hard throwing lefty Jesus Luzardo.
Wainwright pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up one run on five hits, fanned six and walked two to earn his second win of the season. T.J. McFarland, Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos combined to throw the final 3 1/3 innings of relief.
St. Louis’ offense got on the board in the second inning on an RBI double by Paul DeJong. DeJong later scored the second run of the inning on a throwing error.
In the third, the Cardinals added two more runs on a single by Tyler O’Neill and a triple by Tommy Edman. Edman drove in the fifth and final run in the fifth inning on a single. Edman went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Albert Pujols was 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
O’Neill and DeJong each stole a base. It was O’Neill’s first and DeJong’s second. Harrison Bader had an outfield assist at second base.
The Cardinals blanked the Marlins 2-0 on Wednesday night in Game 2 of the three-game road series. Starter Miles Mikolas pitched five scoreless innings, allowed four hits and struck out five.
Rookie Andre Pallante relieved in the sixth and threw impressive scoreless innings. Genesis Cabrera and Giovanny Gallegos each tossed a scoreless inning. Cabrera picked up his first win of the season and Gallegos earned his third save.
The game was a pitching duel between Mikolas and Marlin’s starter Sandy Alcantara. The stalemate was finally broken in the ninth inning. Tyler O’Neill drew a walk and Nolan Arenado blasted his fifth home run, a two run shot, into left center field to give the Cardinals the lead. The Redbirds had five total hits in the game. Tommy Edman was 2-for-4. Yadier Molina and Harrison Bader each singled.
Paul Goldschmidt stole his second base of the season. Edman stole his first base. Molina made a throwing error.
After shutting out the Marlins the previous game, the Marlins reversed the outcome on the Cardinals in Thursday’s series finale. Jordan Hicks made the start. The right hander pitched three innings and gave up one run on two hits, struck out three and walked two. Hicks suffered his first loss of the season.
Drew VerHagen surrendered one unearned run in the fourth. Aaron Brooks threw the next 2 2/3 innings and allowed three runs. Nick Wittgren secured the final out of the seventh. Kodi Whitley tossed a scoreless eighth.
St. Louis’ offense managed five hits, three by Nolan Arenado. Dylan Carlson and Yadier Molina had the other two hits. All five hits were singles.
Paul DeJong committed his first error of the season, a missed catch. Molina had a passed ball.
The Cardinals traveled to Cincinnati to play the Reds in a weekend series. Game 1 on Friday was a 4-2 win for the Redbirds.
Cards starter Steven Matz posted his second win of the season. The left hander pitched five innings and gave up one run on seven hits, fanned six and walked two.
Nick Wittgren relieved and threw a scoreless sixth. Ryan Helsley followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Genesis Cabrera threw 2/3 scoreless innings. Giovanny Gallegos was tagged with one run in the ninth but received his fourth save of the season.
The Cardinals got on the board in the first inning. Dylan Carlson led off with a single and scored on a single by Paul Goldschmidt with a fielding error. St. Louis added two runs in the fourth on two run single by Goldschmidt.
In the fifth, Lars Nootbaar drove in a run to make it 4-0. The Reds finally scored in the bottom of the fifth and then added a second run in the ninth. Goldschmidt was 3-for-5 and Nolan Arenado was 2-for-4.
On Saturday, the Cardinals blanked the Reds in Game 2 to win the series at Great American Ballpark. Dakota Hudson pitched well in this start and won his first game of the season.
Hudson went 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only two hits. The right hander’s only blemish was four walks. He also struck out four.
Andre Pallante and Kodi Whitley combined to toss the final 2 1/3 innings.
St. Louis scored in the second inning. Harrison Bader drew a walk, then stole second base. Andrew Knizner singled to plate Bader.
The Redbirds made it 2-0 in the fifth on an RBI single by Corey Dickerson. In the sixth, Knizner doubled, Tommy Edman was hit by a pitch, and Paul Goldschmidt drove in both on a double.
The fifth and last run scored in the eighth. Bader walked, stole second, and then stole third. Bader scored on a Tommy Edman single. Bader was hitless, but walked twice, stole three bases, scored two runs, and had an outfield assist at third base that saved a run.
Knizner, Paul Goldschmidt, and Dylan Carlson each had two hits.
In addition to the three bases stolen by Bader, Lars Nootbaar stole his first base of the season.
The Cardinals were unable to complete a sweep of the Reds on Sunday in the final game of the series. Adam Wainwright got the start and had to battle his way through five innings. The right hander gave up four runs on eight hits, struck out three and walked three.
T.J. McFarland threw two scoreless innings in relief before Jake Woodford tossed a scoreless eighth. Wainwright took the loss, his second.
The Cardinals offense scored their only run in the sixth inning. Paul Goldschmidt smashed a ground rule double. Tyler O’Neill followed with a double that scored Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt was 2-for-4 in the game. Harrison Bader was 2-for-3.
O’Neill stole his second base of the season. Dylan Carlson had an outfield assist at second base.
NL Central Standings
The Big Picture
The Cardinals ended the week with a record of 4-2, taking 2 of 3 from both the Marlins and the Reds. The Redbirds record is 9-5 and they remain in first place in the NL Central over Milwaukee by percentage points.
In their season-long 10-game road trip, the Cardinals went 6-4, splitting with Milwaukee but unable to sweep either Miami or Cincinnati. Yet, the results overall have been good.
The winning formula changed as the hot St. Louis offense cooled off a bit. The two hottest hitters from last week, Nolan Arenado and Tommy Edman, both dropped to sub .800 OPS’s this week. The top performer for the week is Paul Goldschmidt, with an OPS of .832. Andrew Knizner has an OPS of .804 in two games.
The strugglers with the bat are Paul DeJong (.381) and Yadier Molina (.286). The offense had to face several tough pitchers this week, most notably Sandy Alcantara of the Marlins, who kept the offense scoreless through eight innings on Wednesday. Hard-throwing rookie Nick Lodolo of the Reds also gave the offense fits.
A major contributor to the week was strong starting pitching, as Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz, and Dakota Hudson had good starts. Jordan Hicks made his first start of the season but was limited to three innings. Adam Wainwright started two games with mixed results. He pitched fine in his first start against the Marlins but struggled on Sunday against the Reds.
The bullpen suffered an injury this week, with Drew VerHagen sidelined on the 10-day IL with a hip impingement. The bullpen has been successful so far in this early season, but the 28 player rosters change to 26 at the end of the month, and two players, most likely pitchers, will have to go. The team will have a tough decision to make, made tougher by the emergence of rookie Andre Pallante, who has pitched well in April. There are a limited number of pitchers with minor league options remaining, however, and Pallante is one of them. Jake Woodford’s use has been very limited and he may benefit by starting regularly at Triple-A.
The Cardinals return home on Monday to take on the Mets, who are in first place in the NL East with a record of 12-5, the best record in baseball currently. They face a tough competitor in Max Scherzer on Monday. After the Mets, the Cardinals play the Diamondbacks, currently in last place in the NL West with a record of 6-10. The Mets will be tough, but Arizona should not be underestimated. The Cardinals just lost a game to the Reds, the worst team in baseball, so there is no sure thing in this sport. Both the offense and the pitching must be at the top of their game.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 4/22 The Cardinals placed RHP Drew VerHagen on the 10-day injured list. Right hip impingement
- 4/22 The Cardinals recalled LHP Packy Naughton from the Memphis Redbirds.
- RHP Alex Reyes (frayed right labrum) has been shut down from throwing for four weeks and has received a stem cell injection in his shoulder. Reyes is on the 60-day injured list and will be unavailable until June.
- RHP Jack Flaherty (right shoulder) had imaging done on his shoulder which revealed inflammation as well as a small tear called a SLAP tear (superior labrum and posterior). Flaherty told the media the tear has been there for several years and is unrelated to the inflammation. Flaherty received a PRP injection in the shoulder. The right hander was placed on the 10-day injured list to begin the season. Flaherty has been throwing and a rehab stint is expected but has not been scheduled.
- RHP Drew VerHagen was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a right hip impingement. He received an injection in the hip and is expected to have minimal time away. The right hander will begin throwing during the coming week, with a bullpen session to occur within a few days.
The Cardinals ended the 6-4 road trip and return home to begin an eight-game homestand. The team plays the Mets in a three-game series beginning on Monday. Miles Mikolas will get the Monday start and will face Mets ace Max Scherzer. Jordan Hicks will follow on Tuesday, and Steven Matz will face off against his former team on Wednesday.
Beginning on Thursday, the Cardinals play a four-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
On Monday, May 2 the team will make up a rained out home game against the Royals, then head to KC to play the Royals at Kauffmann Stadium for two.
The Cardinals will extend the road trip next Thursday, heading to San Francisco to play the Giants in a four-game weekend series.
The regular season schedule can be found here.
Blast from the Past
This week’s Blast from the Past looks at a memorable game that occurred on April 18, 1987. The Cardinals were playing the World Series Champions from the year before, the New York Mets. The Mets and the Cardinals were considered to be the contenders for the National League East Division title that season. The Cardinals considered the Mets (referred to as Pond Scum by the Cardinal faithful) a rival to be reckoned with.
It started as an ordinary April game at Busch Stadium, not particularly meaningful in the sense that it was just 10 games into the season. When it ended, the moniker “ordinary” no longer applied. This was a promotional night, and the fans received a seat cushion as they entered the park that evening.
The pitching matchup was Danny Cox for the Cardinals and Ron Darling for the Mets. Cox, in his fifth season in St. Louis, was coming off a 12-13, 2.90 ERA showing in 1986. Darling, (known to today’s fans as an analyst for the Mets SNY Network, along with Cardinals Hall of Famer Keith Hernandez) had finished the previous season with a record of 15-6 and an ERA of 2.81.
Neither starter would last long. Cox had won his previous two starts and this one began with a scoreless first inning for the right hander. In the second inning he gave up his first run on a single to Mets center fielder Lenny Dykstra. The game unraveled for Cox in the third. With two outs, Cox gave up a double to Daryl Strawberry and walked Kevin McReynolds. The Mets big slugger, Howard Johnson (no connection to the hotel chain) took Cox deep for a three-run home run.
Cox did not return for the fourth inning. Jose Oquendo pinch hit for Cox, and Pat Perry came in to pitch the fourth. Perry gave up one run and the Mets led 5-0.
Darling, on the other hand, had cruised through three innings. When the Cardinals came up to bat in the fourth, everything changed. Darling gave up consecutive singles to Tom Herr, Jack Clark and Willie McGee. Herr scored on McGee’s knock. Jim Lindeman then doubled to score Clark and McGee. Steve Lake plated Lindemann on a single. With two outs and four runs on the board, Darling surrendered a single to Vince Coleman, walked Ozzie Smith, and when the lineup came back around, walked Tom Herr with the bases loaded to score the fifth run to tie the game. After the Herr walk, Darling was replaced by David Cone, who fanned Clark to get the final out.
The Cardinals took a 6-5 lead in the sixth when Cone walked Smith and Herr doubled to score Smith from first.
The seventh and eighth innings were scoreless on both sides. Todd Worrell had replaced Perry and Cone was replaced by Gene Walter. In the ninth, Worrell walked the first two Mets and was replaced by Bill Dawley. Dawley retired the next two hitters then allowed back to back singles to score the two runners on base and give the Mets a 7-6 lead.
Down one run in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals hitters faced veteran lefty Jesse Orosco. Orosco walked Smith. Herr sacrificed Smith to second on a bunt. Smith stole third base and scored on a throwing error by Orosco. The game was tied. Clark and McGee struck out and the game went into extra innings.
Dawley returned to start the 10th. He walked Al Pedrique, who was then bunted over to second base. At that point Dawley was out and Dave LaPoint was in. LaPoint retired his first hitter on a groundout that advanced Pedrique to third. On his next hitter, Tim Teufel, he threw a wild pitch and Pedrique scored to give the Mets an 8-7 lead. La Point walked Teufel but struck out Keith Hernandez to end the inning.
Orosco returned to pitch the bottom of the 10th. He retired Tito Landrum on a groundout but gave up back-to-back singles to Terry Pendleton and Lake (Tom Lawless pinch ran for Lake). Tom Pagnozzi pinch hit for Curt Ford and singled to score Pendleton and tie the game at 8-8.
With the game once again tied, Orosco retired Coleman on a ground out to first, then intentionally walked Smith to load the bases. Tom Herr came to bat. Herr had already reached base four times that evening. Orsoco threw Herr a first pitch fastball, and Herr sent it soaring over the left field wall for the first gram slam of his career.
The Cardinals won the game 12-8 on a walk off as Cardinals fans pummeled the field with thousands of seat cushions. The field was so littered with them that the grounds crew were still picking them up the next day.
Future Cardinals Hall of Famer Herr received the game winning ball from an usher. Manager Whitey Herzog said afterward, “I guess that will be the end of seat cushion day.” He was right.
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